Technoform helps Seattle's Bullitt Center become the greenest commercial building in the world

Seattle, Washington
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bullitt2 sm
Photo credit: Benjamin Benschneider

Technoform is helping the Bullitt Center achieve its net-zero energy goals and to become the first commercial office building to earn Living Building Challenge certification. Located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, the $18.5 million project opened on Earth Day, April 22, 2013 and intends to have the building last until 2263.

Pursuing Living Building Challenge certification

“The greenest commercial building in the world,” boasts the Bullitt Center’s website. Through the International Living Future Institute, Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification poses the most rigorous performance standards across the globe. Validation includes submitting 12 months of post-occupancy data to demonstrate annual operations for net-zero energy and water, plus a zero carbon footprint. Along with performance, LBC also requires a building to be useful, healthy and beautiful.
The six-story, 52,000-square-foot, Class A office building’s unusually tall 14-foot floor-to-floor heights are matched with equally impressive floor-to-ceiling operable window systems. These spacious, daylit areas provide expansive views of the downtown skyline and connect the building’s occupants with their surrounding environment.

Named for its owner, the Bullitt Foundation strives to safeguard the natural environment through promotion of responsible human activities and sustainable communities in the Pacific Northwest. Point32 served as the developer for the Foundation’s new headquarters. Sharing the Bullitt Foundation’s vision, Point32 selected Miller Hull Partnership as the architect and Schuchart Construction as the general contractor.

“The attention-getting elements of the Bullitt Center -- 100% onsite renewable energy, water and waste management, as well as a safe, naturally day-lit and ventilated work environment built to last 250 years -- follow from an equally exciting integrated design process that enabled us to move beyond the traditionally linear design, engineering and construction process to orchestrate a diverse team targeting the seemingly impossible together, right from the start,” said Craig Curtis, design partner with The Miller Hull Partnership. 

We were able to get the best U-Factor for the architect using Technoform’s spacer. It went well with the glazing and was a fun project.

Javier Bonilla, project manager with Goldfinch Brothers

Technoform's patented spacer design combines the benefits of high-performance polymers and thin stainless steel, setting the performance standard for insulating glass products. TGI-Spacers were one of thousands of building materials in the Bullitt Center that were vetted thoroughly for compliance with the LBC “Red List” of 14 potentially toxic substances. Many of these substances, such as PVC and formaldehyde, are common in building materials.

“It is important that we look forward, look ahead, and find products that are effective and affordable,” says Greg Goldfinch, president of Goldfinch Brothers. To him, the Bullitt Center exemplifies the future of sustainable commercial construction. “It really is going to be a showcase for a Living Building Challenge, a net-zero building, and to be a part of that is pretty special.”

“It’s really incredible,” praises Amanda Sturgeon of the International Living Future Institute. “It’s proof at a size and in a location where people can interact and be aware of it and be part of the process.”

Craig Curtis, FAIA, design partner at Miller Hull, continues, “In considering first and foremost how to design a building with essentially no environmental footprint, it was energizing to identify imaginative and elegant ways to beautifully express the building’s core performance functions through design strategies using a mix of existing and new technologies, systems, and materials. While in one sense we had to do more with less, we happily found that designing to high-performance targets actually opened up numerous formal design opportunities.”

From Architectural Record to The New York Times to Wired, dozens of architectural, sustainability and business media outlets have complimented the Bullitt Center’s design. The project also has been honored by the American Institute of Architects’ Seattle chapter’s What Makes It Green Awards, Architizer’s A+ Awards, Eco-Structure magazine’s Evergreen Awards, the Forest Stewardship Council’s Design & Build with FSC Award, Seattle Business magazine’s Green Washington Awards and others.

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